It got loud in SIGNAL IDUNA PARK when it was Marcel Schmelzer's turn. The left-back had worn the Black & Yellow shirt for 17 years. Before the match against Hertha BSC, the long-time Borussia Dortmund player was given an emotional farewell.
"He is not only an outstanding footballer, but also an outstanding person and friend. All the best for the future to our number 29, Marcel Schmelzer!" shouted stadium announcer Nobby Dickel into the microphone. "Dortmund Lad" was written on the advertising boards, "Thank you Schmelle" on the scoreboard, as Schmelzer walked through the line of his team-mates to the South Stand. The injured Mats Hummels had also joined them to bid farewell to his long-time colleague. "And we will always be Borussians," sang the South, which honoured the former captain with a block flag at the start of the second half. On display was a massive oversized shirt with the number 29. Underneath it was written "Once a Borussian, always a Borussian". After the final whistle, Schmelzer mingled with the fans in the South stand before walking through a line of players and staff after a lap of honour.
Marcel Schmelzer joined BVB in 2005 at the age of 17. At that time, the Magdeburg native initially lived in the youth hostel near SIGNAL IDUNA PARK - and really got to experience the charisma of Borussia Dortmund there: "On weekends, when Borussia played, you could see a crowd of people pass by the window. Even when things weren't going so well, so many people still made the pilgrimage to the stadium with BVB paraphernalia." But he also learned a lot about BVB from a classmate whose family he often visited: "This family showed me what Borussia means here in Dortmund. Everyone there was Black & Yellow."
When Schmelzer joined BVB, hardly anyone could have imagined that he would play his entire professional career for one and the same club. He has made 450 appearances, if you count the games in the U19s and U23s. He worked his way up to the first team squad via the U19 and U23 teams. On 16 August 2008, Schmelzer made his debut in the Bundesliga. Through enormous ambition and confidence in his own strengths and abilities, he developed into an indispensable first team regular.
Schmelzer always stood for hard work and maximum running performance. He was one of those who always wanted to win and who also showed this in the most important, the biggest games. In the legendary 2013 Champions League quarter-final against Malaga FC, it was he who drove the team forward in a seemingly hopeless situation. His former teammate Nuri Sahin once said: "When I looked into Schmelle's eyes through the face mask he was wearing because of his broken nose, I knew: We can do it! I saw how much he wanted it and how strongly he believed in it - and then I believed it too. From that moment on, the thought carried me: 'Klopp' the balls forward, always long into the penalty area!"
In total, the left-back played 367 first team competitive games for the Black & Yellows (7 goals/34 assists). He made 69 appearances for BVB in the European competitions - historically, only four players have played more games for the Black & Yellows in European competition: Stefan Reuter (85), Lukasz Piszczek (76), Marco Reus (75) and Lars Ricken (74). Schmelzer won the German championship in 2011 and 2012 and the DFB Pokal in 2012, 2017 and 2021. From 2016 to 2018, he led the first team onto the pitch as captain. However, due to a knee injury, he has not appeared on the pitch for BVB since 17 June 2020. "Marcel Schmelzer is a player who has rendered outstanding service to Borussia Dortmund and has always identified 100 per cent with our - with his - club," said sporting director Michael Zorc a year ago.
"I have valued every moment very much and have worked every year to be able to stay one year longer. I didn't even let the offers that came in through my agent get to me because I felt so comfortable here," Schmelzer said. "I had so much fun playing for this club and had great teammates and coaches around me. That's why it was never a question for me to leave the club."
Marcel Schmelzer stands for commitment, straightforwardness and consistency. And for loyalty to the club. Future Sporting Director Sebastian Kehl emphasised that there are of course efforts to keep Marcel Schmelzer involved at BVB beyond the end of his career. "Marcel Schmelzer will always have his place at Borussia Dortmund, the affiliation will always be there." Concrete talks about what this might look like are still to take place.